Late yesterday afternoon, Telstra tried to crash the mobile data plan cocktail party. The only problem is that instead of bringing a bottle of liqueur like Baileys or Kahlua, they brought a couple of cans of VB, a bottle of Passion Pop, and a cask of Tropicana. Then, instead of sharing their booze, they sat in the corner and got drunk by themselves.
If you believe the press release, the new Telstra data plans for the iPhone are possible thanks to the superior NextG network capacity. Yet for all that fantastic capacity, all they could manage to increase two of their mobile add-on data packs: The $10 pack goes from 20MB to 150MB, while the $29 pack goes from 80MB to 300MB. They also reduced the excess usage rates (although to what wasn't actually mentioned in the press release.) UPDATE: Gus at Lifehacker managed to discover the excess data rates from Telstra:
Excess data now costs 50 cents per MB on the $10 plan, or 25 cents per MB on the $29 plan (it was previously $1 on both plans).
Considering my iPhone $59 cap on Optus gives me 500MB, and the new Virgin plans offer 1GB for $70 (including calls), Telstra still has a long way to go before it becomes truly competitive on this level. Sure, they do have the best network in the country at the moment, but for most city slickers, the benefit is still a fair way from outweighing the cost.
For thse interested in reading Telstra's spin on this, the press release is below:
Capacity enables bigger downloads on Next G™ network
From tomorrow more Australians will be able to use and explore more mobile internet content, video and email on the nation's largest and fastest national mobile network - the Next G™ network - with the release of new, increased data download limits on the most popular data plans.
Telstra Consumer Marketing and Channels Executive Director, Ms Glenice Maclellan, said the changes would not impact reliability, customer experience or service quality, following network enhancements to increase data capacity.
She said that with more than four million 3G customers, Telstra had increased its understanding of mobile data use, as well as enhanced network capacity and spectrum following the closure of the CDMA network in late April.
"Telstra's Next G™ network enables the latest handset features to come to life at turbo-charged speeds, so customers can experience greater functionality and superior content as device manufacturers catch up with Next G™ capabilities," Ms Maclellan said.
"Recent network enhancements like the 3G Direct Tunnel technology will meet the needs of increased broadband traffic over the Next G™ network, in addition to the extra spectrum made available by the shutdown of CDMA.
"Since we launched the world-leading Next G™ network in October 2006 we have extended coverage to 99% of the population and become Australia's 3G market leader. We have learned a lot about the way our customers use their mobiles to access content, email, the mobile internet and video.
"Not only can our customers access the internet faster and in more places, Telstra also offers a host of mobile BigPond® content such as 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, BigPond TV, Mobile FOXTEL from Telstra, Yellow™ Mobile search, breaking news, weather forecasts, coverage of AFL and NRL including exclusive full match replays and more."
The changes include: • $10 mobile data packs will now include 150 megabytes of data - up from 20 megabytes; • $29 mobile data packs will now include 300 megabytes of data - up from 80 megabytes; and • Excess data usage rates have been reduced on these two data packs.
Telstra customers already using a $10 or a $29 browsing pack will automatically have the additional data allowance added to their plans over the coming months. Customers who don't have a browsing pack can visit their local Telstra Shop or dealer to discuss their data needs or call 125 111.
To ensure a great customer experience and provide flexibility and control, customers are sent a reminder SMS when they are getting close to their included data allocation (at 80 per cent) and again when the data pack is finished (100 per cent). They can also check their data use on the web.